Ask Peter: What to do with a glut of kiwifruit
We seem to have a glut of kiwifruit right now, so I’d love to preserve some to use when the season is over. Can kiwifruit be frozen and if so how? What else can I do to the fruit to have some for summer cooking?
Thanks, Christine Free
Kiwifruit. I’m so old that I can remember a time when we called them Chinese gooseberries. I also recall that one of the first vines that arrived from China was grown up the Whanganui River Valley. At least, that’s what I was told as a child – apparently the vines were brought back by the sibling of a missionary working in China.
Recently I was in Turkey, and there in one of the markets in the centre of Istanbul were some New Zealand-grown kiwifruit, and it struck me that this rather strange, but delicious, fruit which seemed so incredibly exotic to me as a child is a fruit that helps us define where we come from. When I told the man in the shop I was from New Zealand he looked a little confused. When I said I was a Kiwi (a term I try to avoid using) he knew exactly where I was from, as the All Blacks are also from “Kiwiland”!
Anyway, I am a fan of the green fruit and I also really like the golden variety. I’ve seen images of a purple variegated variety in a horticultural magazine some years back but are yet to cross their path, a path I look forward to.
You can easily freeze them whole, either peeled or unpeeled. However, when they defrost they will fall apart somewhat as the water contained in the cells of the flesh will swell (just like the ice in your ice cube moulds) and stretch and tear apart the frail cell walls, causing the fruit to look a little mashed. So, you probably won’t want to use defrosted ones sliced into a salad. I have seen them peeled and sliced, laid out on baking trays lined with non-stick parchment and tightly sealed before being frozen. The resulting fruit will still be tender, but can be used successfully laid upon a tart or pavlova. If you were to pour on a thin layer of a clear jelly you wouldn’t be found out. Apart from pulping them and freezing the puree you can also preserve kiwifruit in sugar syrup, but you will end up with something not quite as nice as preserved apricots or bottled plums. They are quite tender and don’t like too much rough handling.
Kiwifruit chutney can be really good, although some people find the seeds seem to become more obvious when used in something that’s been cooked for a long time, which chutneys tend to be.
- Saute thinly sliced white-fleshed onions with ginger and chillies until collapsed but before they begin to caramelise.
- Add an equal amount of peeled and roughly cut kiwifruit (large pieces).
- Depending on how sweet the kiwifruit are, add enough white sugar (or unrefined white sugar) to sweeten, then either lemon juice or cider vinegar to taste along with some salt right at the end.
- Bring almost to a boil, then cook for 20 30 minutes to evaporate the liquids, stirring very gently so as to not mush the fruit up too much.
- Spices that can be added while the onions are cooking include star anise and fennel seeds (great with pork), cinnamon, cardamom and cloves (great with lamb and mutton).
If you’re thinking beef then I’d suggest you avoid the match – it’s a marriage I’m yet to see succeed). Otherwise, try adding them to smoothies (although the seeds can irritate some people as they get quite ticklish in the throat). They’re lovely peeled and diced and added to a salsa of thinly sliced red onion, garlic, ginger, chilli and coriander to be served with grilled oily fish. Stew them lightly to make a fruit compote along with peeled sliced pears or apple, honey, cinnamon and ginger and serve with toasted brioche and vanilla ice cream.
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